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Johannesburg Zoo

In 1904, the land which the Johannesburg Zoo encompasses was donated to the people of the city of Johannesburg to be used for recreational use by the firm of the late Hermann Ekstein. Hermann Eckstein was involved in the development of the new mining town of Johannesburg, He had three million trees planted in an area which he christened Sachsenwald, now the suburb of Saxonwold.

For much of the twentieth century, the Johannesburg Zoo developed and many facilities were built, for example the hospital in 1936. The zoo also went through some difficult periods where the animal collection was diminishing and not growing.

Public perception of the zoo changed in the 1960's where visitors wanted to see animals in larger, more natural enclosures. This was the start of the zoo's long term plans to grow and improve the facility for both the animals' and the visitors. These changes saw the upgrading and creation of old and new enclosures, development of education and environmental programmes and the zoo becoming part of local and international breeding programmes.

Did you know?

The original animal collection consisted of one lion, one leopard, one giraffe, two Sable antelope bulls, one baboon, one genet, one pair of Rhesus monkeys, one pair of porcupines and one Golden eagle.
  • The first "official" enclosure was built by the Town Council to house two young lions. Only the lions and leopard were in the public area at this stage.
  • In 1910 the Bandstand was built to host the popular brass band music of the day.
  • Between 1913 and 1915 the stone elephant and rhino house was erected. Also at this time, one Asian elephant and one Bactrian camel were purchased and trained for rides.
  • In 1961 for the first time visitors over the age of 16 were charged to enter the zoo.
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